Norway PM Fined $2,350 for Breaching Her Own Covid Rules

Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, was fined 20,000 kroner ($2,350) for breaking her own government’s Covid restrictions in connection with a party celebrating her 60th birthday.

The circumstances wouldn’t normally trigger a fine, but police suggested the country’s prime minister should be held to a higher standard.

“Even though the law is the same for everyone, not everyone is the same,” Ole Saeverud of the south-east district police force, told reporters in Oslo on Friday.

Solberg has already admitted she breached national guidelines when she took part in a family gathering at a ski resort in February. The birthday celebration included more people than were permitted under limits dictated by Norway’s Covid restrictions.

Solberg is not the first high-ranking official to fall foul of pandemic regulations. Other prominent public figures include the European Union’s trade chief, Phil Hogan, who resigned in August after attending a dinner at which over 80 people were present.

While Solberg’s misstep hasn’t triggered calls for her resignation, it may well dent her popularity. In neighboring Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven saw his approval ratings slump after he was caught on a shopping expedition without a face mask.

Solberg’s Conservative Party is neck-and-neck with the opposition Labor Party ahead of September elections, according to an opinion poll published last month by Dagsavisen. With junior partners in her minority coalition polling around the 4% threshold needed to remain in parliament, Solberg may be facing an uphill battle to extend her eight-year term as premier.

“Solberg is the nation’s leading elected representative and has on a number of occasions fronted the government’s decisions on measures to counter the pandemic,” Saeverud said. “It is therefore considered appropriate to respond with a penalty in order to maintain the public’s confidence in infection control rules.”

Norway has maintained some of Europe’s lowest Covid-19 infection and death rates, partly due to strict measures introduced when more contagious variants began spreading. Solberg announced an exit plan from lockdown measures earlier this year, envisaging the first steps of easing in the second half of May.

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